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Intel expected to unveil cable service, set-top box at CES

Chipmaker Intel is reportedly planning to unveil a new set-top box and accompanying cable service at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January.

Citing sources familiar with Intel's plans, TechCrunch reported on Monday that Intel's "virtual cable TV service" and hardware are in the works, and that the company also has a plan to secure the necessary licensing agreements to release such a product. Apple, which has been long rumored to be interested in building either a television set or a set-top box, is said to have been held back at least in part by media companies who are reluctant to offer necessary agreements.

Citing one source, Monday's report claimed that Intel has become tired of "everyone doing a half-assed Google TV." That's prompted the company to step in and "do it right" by building their own service and hardware.

"The plan is to create a set-top box and subscription TV service that would appeal to people who want streaming TV access but don't want to entirely cut the cable cord and lose key content like sports," author Josh Constine wrote. "The service would pipe in both traditional channels and streaming content such as Redbox's streaming service."

Intel reportedly plans to unveil the "first version" of what's called an "evolving set-top box" at its CES event on Jan. 7.

Rumors of a full-fledged Apple television set have persisted for years, but the possibility of the company instead releasing a greatly enhanced Apple TV set-top box as an accessory for third-party televisions was raised this August. A report from The Wall Street Journal revealed that Apple was considering building its own cable box that would include an iOS-like user interface and advanced cloud-based DVR functionality that would blur the line between live and on-demand content.

Google TV

With Apple allegedly interested in expanding its current Apple TV accessory, and Intel reportedly planning to unveil a new platform in the immediate future, Google has signaled that it wishes to get out of the set-top box business. Earlier this month, one report claimed that Google was working on a deal to sell its Motorola Home Business, responsible for building boxes for cable providers.

Google's shift would sell off a major portion of the $12.5 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility it bought a year ago. Some industry watchers had initially speculated that Motorola's set-top box business might have been a key part of the acquisition for Google, as the company offers its own Android-based Google TV business.